C Is For Creating Characters

For the Blogging From A to Z Challenge I’m doing you all a huge favor and filling you in on the 26 Things To Hate About Writing.** I’m hoping by the end of April, I will have convinced all of you not to indulge in the wild insanity of becoming a writer. If I can save even one person from offering themselves up in sacrifice to the mad and fickle word gods, I will have done some good in this world.

Check out each letter’s post here.

CREATING CHARACTERS

The absolute worst thing about any story, hands down, is the characters. Nothing can ruin a story faster than having characters in it. The best book ever written is a little-known title called A Tree Growing Alone In the Forest. There’s no characters, just eight hundred pages of a non-sentient tree surrounded by other non-sentient plants, just doing what trees do like turning carbon dioxide into oxygen and absorbing nutrients from the soil. No one visits it. Nothing important happens. It’s a wonderful read. The author didn’t have to tear their hair out or gnash their teeth because the tree was entirely predictable and never wavered from the plot.

Why are characters the worst? Because one of the worst things about writing is creating those idiots. Here’s what characters do:

– Half of them don’t know what their frickin’ name is and so you try to name them but nothing sounds right and I’m sorry, Sheila Rufflebottom, but I’m sending your ass into space to fight in the space war anyway.
– You want them to do something and then they do something else. They’re like cats, in that way.
– Sometimes they’re not interesting no matter how many tattoos and mommy issues you give them.
– Sometimes they don’t like each other even though they’re supposed to because they have a common unifying force, kinda like your parents meeting your in-laws.
– They’re never grateful you gave them life, they just screw up your story anyway.

Don’t write stories with characters in them. If you do, eventually you’re going to write a character who just works, who is interesting and fun and sympathetic and will be loved by your readers. You’re going to adore this character and they’re going to feel real to you. You’re going to love telling their story. They’re going to have great interaction and relationships with other characters. Is that what you want? Is that what you really want? You maniac!


**Disclaimer: If you haven’t figured it out, these posts are pure satire and simply a humorous way to vent my writing frustrations. No offense is intended to anyone. Please, become or continue being a writer. It’s awesome, I swear. It’s super…duper, awesome…heh heh.

84 comments

  1. I’m afraid to share my stories so far due to loving the characters too much! I don’t want them to be insulted by some unworthy mortal. ~grin~ Thanks for these posts!

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  2. “the tree was entirely predictable and never wavered from the plot”…. this is perfect. “never wavered from the plot”!! Love it. Even if you didn’t mean it to be funny THAT way! I think I will write about a rock. They’re pretty rock solid on a plot, too.
    Oh, good grief. Just wrote and deleted a poem. See I have this rhyming problem. The character thing, not so much. A poem penchant, serious. It can be irritating, too. Almost like it must be with a character calling out to you, “Write me! Write me!” – so are the days of my life with poems. Each poem is like a character.

    Donna Smith
    Mainely Write
    DAM

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  3. Of course….they get to wear nice clothes…. Their names are given more thought than those of the author s actual real life babies…. They are usually nice and admirable and they eat the author’s head….

    C for Cup

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  4. I really envy authors who nail the art of making their characters. Some character names seem so perfectly suited, and my character names keep sticking out and seeming out of place. The character-less book had me in splits !

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  5. Haha! I have a friend that writes, and she is always telling me how one of her characters continues to make her angry. She really wants to kill him now, but can’t because it will ruin the story.

    ~Mary
    Jingle Jangle Jungle
    #AtoZChallenge 1970’s Billboard Hits

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  6. Sheila Rufflebottom, huh? You hit the nail on the head- characters are very troublesome. The worst is when they pop in and out of my head at random times. While it can be distracting, it’s when they are alone and don’t exist in anything I’ve written that it really bothers me. Who are you? Where do you belong? Are you in something I am working on or are you a brand new story?

    Great post! 🙂

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  7. Megan! Megan! MEGAN!!! You kill me! I wish I could get to meet you in person because I believe we would get along so well. I am laying out the plot, setting and yes Characters of a new historical fiction novel and many of my 26 posts are character sketches. I cannot remember if I have shared this next couple of lines, so if I have I apologize and I will make sure not to again.

    The Steel Horse Saviors is a story about three civil war veterans who head west in 1866 with their Steam Locomotive to seek their fortune. They encounter a beautiful redhead trying desperately to save her family business that threatens to complicate their plan to escape their past.

    Joe @ the Fiction Playground visiting from the A to Z Challenge

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  8. The worst is when they bother you and go on about their problems when you’re trying to go about your business and do everyday things like sleeping and washing. Decent (and real) people don’t do that, usually!

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  9. Naming characters should be an Olympic sport – it takes the same kind of stamina 😉 Even if you make something up, half the time you Google it and find out it means something embarassing in Russian or Swahili!
    Tasha
    Tasha’s Thinkings – Shapeshifters and Werewolves

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    1. Oh gosh, yes, or the worst–you think up a great name, only to find there’s already a character in another (usually popular) book that has the same name and you don’t want to make it look like you’re stealing. It’s enough to make you pull your hair out!

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  10. I love the comment about characters being like cats, I so totally with that! My cats (especially the year-old sextuplets who are my furry grandbabies and all royal pains in the butt) never want to do a damn thing they’re told, and love destroying Grandma’s stuff. They’ve made a hammock out of my curtain, and love knocking the curtain rod down six or more times a day. Their mom’s not much better. I’ve had so many characters that remind me of these kittens, because they absolutely refuse to do what I want them to do and instead go off and do their own thing while laughing at me the whole time. Sixteen chapters later, the story doesn’t even pretend to vaguely resemble the story I’d intended to write, and no one is anything like the way they started out, and how the hell did those two end of together, anyway? They hated each other in chapter one!

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    1. EXACTLY! Characters are just like kittens, ruining the curtains, but they’re so soft and cuddly you just can’t get mad at them…sigh! And they never, ever listen, even when you try to bribe them with treats.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  11. My favorite character I ever created was made from Silly Putty. But even he turned into a bit of a dick. I think I agree with you

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